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Government and Councils To Get Snooping Rights To Access Private Emails and Texts

The Home Office is considering plans to coerce Internet Service Providers to keep web traffic and email data for a minimum of 12 months in a bid to crack down on serious crime and terrorism.

The plan, which will also see our phone records come under scrutiny, is said to cost the taxpayers nearly £50 million and will allow police, town halls, security services and public quangos - more than 650 in all - to get access to records of anyone suspected of criminal involvement.

The proposals, dubbed "Snoopers' charter" by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, comes from an EU directive which means that the data should be available across Europe with the associated risks.

Interestingly, the Guardian (opens in new tab) mentions that even VoIP calls will be monitored although the article does not say clearly how - this in turn raises doubt about whether programs like Skype have a backdoor access or not.

The UK government has until March 2009 to implement the legal framework to make the plan stand and create a massive database.

It is already mandatory for phone companies to retain records of both landline and mobile phone calls made by their users for one year, although that would certainly not discourage criminals from using widely available free SIM cards and throw-away or stolen phones.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.